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12/14/09 3:50 PM EST

Red Sox to open vs. Yanks on ESPN2

First contest of 2010 will kick off rivalry on Sunday, April 4

It won't take long for the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry to heat up in 2010.

The 2010 Major League Baseball regular season will begin with the Yankees opening their World Series title defense against the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday, April 4, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The schedule for the remaining two games of the three-game series will be announced at a later date.

It will mark the fifth time in the past six seasons that the winner of the previous year's World Series plays in the season-opening Sunday night game.

And it will also be the second time in Major League history that the Yankees and Red Sox will play each other in a standalone game to open a season, as the two rivals opened the 2005 season at Yankee Stadium after the Red Sox won the '04 World Series.

But the two teams have a long history of playing each other on Opening Day, as it will mark the 30th time that Boston and New York have opened a season against each other, dating all the way back to 1904. The last time Fenway Park hosted one of those games, however, was in 1985.

In the 29 Opening Day games between the two clubs, the Yankees hold an 18-10-1 record against the Red Sox.

Last season, the two teams each won nine games against each other head-to-head, even though the Red Sox won the first eight meetings with two three-game sweeps at Fenway Park and a two-game sweep at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees came back to win nine of their final 10 meetings against the Red Sox, including a four-game sweep at Yankee Stadium in August and a three-game sweep in the Bronx in September.

The Yankees won the American League East by eight games over the AL Wild Card-winning Red Sox, and then went on to win their 27th World Series title.

Next year's opener between the two teams will also mark the start of ESPN's 21st season broadcasting Major League Baseball, and will also be available via ESPN Radio, ESPN360.com and ESPN Mobile TV.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.